Surgical assessment of the geriatric oncology patient
Lampugnale, Cy Andrew
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BACKGROUND: The aging population in the United States will correlate with an increased number of cancer diagnoses as cancer is primarily a disease of the elderly. Providing this ever-growing group of individuals with quality surgical management, while taking into account the unique needs and desires of this cohort, is a great challenge facing both geriatricians and surgeons going forward. The best approach to ensure that oncogeriatric patients receive the best tailored treatment is through the completion of a pre-surgical geriatric assessment. However, only a minority of oncogeriatric patients is undergoing a comprehensive pre-surgical geriatric assessment despite the majority of geriatricians and surgeons acknowledging its importance in order to properly risk stratify their patients. LITERATURE REVIEW FINDINGS: Multiple theories exist as to why geriatric assessments are not being utilized more frequently, but the most probable answer is that these assessments are very time-consuming, making it virtually impossible for incorporation into a healthcare provider’s busy schedule. Comprehensive literature review regarding geriatric assessments amongst the oncogeriatric population found that the most sensitive and specific domains of the geriatric assessments predicting morbidity and mortality include Frailty Index, Social Support Survey, Mini-Nutritional Assessment, and Geriatric Depression Screening. PROPOSED METHODS: A novel educational intervention will be proposed to teach Physician Assistant and Medical Students about the domains of the geriatric assessment most predictive of post-surgical risk during their surgical clerkship. The curriculum will utilize both simulation- and competency-based education training under the guidance of geriatricians and surgeons. Students will first learn the necessary skills in a controlled classroom environment and then proceed to incorporate these skills during their clerkship with patients on their service. CONCLUSIONS: The goal of the proposed method is to instill the confidence and skills necessary to provide an accurate geriatric assessment for oncogeriatric patients in future clinicians. The field of geriatric oncology is going to grow exponentially in the up-coming years and familiarizing future clinicians with the most predictive domains regarding surgical outcome will improve treatment outcomes for oncogeriatric patients in the immediate and foreseeable future.